When Rajan Sandhu graduated from law school, in 2014, he landed an articling position with a sole practitioner in northern Ontario. But after a couple of months on the job, he felt boxed in by the limited scope of the firm. He worried that the location, coupled with the firm’s strict focus on family law, real estate and general litigation, would limit his advancement opportunities. “I realized the experience I was going to get was very narrow,” he says. “That’s not what I was looking for in my career. I wanted to explore different areas of law.”
Sandhu decided, instead, to enroll in the Law Practice Program (LPP) at Ryerson University. He quickly found the variety he was craving. In the first four months of the program, he handled mock files in a wide range of practice areas, from civil and real estate to corporate and criminal. In the second half of the program, he completed a work-experience position at Sheridan College, where he worked directly with the general counsel. On the whole, the training was top-notch.
Six years later, he’s still at Sheridan College — only now, he’s the boss. As the general counsel, he leads an in-house team of six professionals. “We serve the entire college,” he says. “We do everything, including corporate governance, compliance, privacy and access to information, contracts and advising on strategic matters.” Here, Sandhu explains how the LPP helped him launch a successful legal career.
What’s one of the best features of the Law Practice Program?
“The networking opportunities. During the LPP, we were assigned lawyer mentors. Throughout the program, we had access to industry leaders, and you could pick their brains during meetings. There was a wide variety of professionals: in-house lawyers, lawyers who worked in firms, litigators. It was a great benefit getting their advice and constructive criticism.”
During the first half of the program, LPP candidates team up and work in a simulated law firm. Talk about that experience.
“We worked in groups and got to know each other very well during the simulation. We did some assignments alone and some as a team, but it really focused on building up our skills of working with others. One nice thing about it was that our team had several different mentors throughout the simulation.”
What would you tell a student in the position you were in, choosing between articling and the LPP?
“It depends on the skills they want to develop. I know individuals who have had excellent articling experiences because they knew exactly what they wanted to do — labour law, for example. The LPP, on the other hand, is like a playground where you’re able to test your skills and see where you want to go. You have the chance to work in practice areas you might have never seen yourself doing.”
As the general counsel at Sheridan College, you now take on your own LPP students. What do they bring to the table?
“The calibre of LPP candidates is high. Give them a legal problem and they hit the ground running. They understand how legal departments and law firms work, and they understand the quality of work that’s expected of them. There is also consistency in the quality of what LPP candidates are learning, including important skills that they may not come across in some articling experiences. Yet they each have a unique skill set, and many of them come from non-traditional backgrounds. That reflects a larger societal shift that the profession needs to embrace.”
Ryerson’s Law Practice Program (LPP) is the first of its kind in Ontario. Innovative, rigorous and demanding, the eight-month LPP is an approved pathway to lawyer licensing in Ontario (equivalent to articling), offering simulated, virtual training with a hands-on work term. To learn more, visit ryerson.ca/lpp.